A pumpkin, a drill, and far too much red wine About eight of us sat on the floor of a friend's living room and scooped out pumpkin guts. Once hollow, most took out knives to carve faces, but one person had his carving set with him and scraped a face onto the surface of the pumpkin--very effective. There was one bottle-blonde who brought her cordless drill and drill set and proceeded to drill tiny little holes in her pumpkin, into which she placed tiny Christmas lights. The results would have been fabulous, rather than experimental, had she brought enough lights (100 wasn't enough!) and had they not insisted on shorting out whilst in contact with the moist pumpkin flesh. Dropping the pumpkin a couple of times brought the lights back to life, but tended to have ill effects on the pumpkin itself. The saucy "vin de table" she brought with her reminded her that the ends don't always justify the means.


Another weekend... ...at the office. Friday night, I did manage to drink a bit too much beer, which was good, but I was entirely un-tipsy-fied by the time I biked home. It's Sunday, and I have no idea what I did on Saturday, other than read the paper, go to the offfice, go home and crash on the couch. Today was fun, though: brunch at friends, a bit of work, and pumpkin carving tonight. I'm going to carve my pumpkin with a drill (cordless, of course).


I went out to dinner with friends tonight instead of working overtime (for the 9th day in a row) and I feel guilty. What's wrong with me?


Fun with Search Engines I'm number one with: - "starry starry night napkins": Dinner or sanitary? Actually, now that they have black "panty liners", why not ones emblazoned with oh-so-popular impressionist art. There's gotta be Hello Kitty panty liners somewhere. - "pigeon hill map quebec": How sweet to be listed "number one" in relation to my favourite Quebec village. - "platonic sex": I'm worried. What does that say about me? I'm number two with: - "put your legs in my shoes": Legs in shoes? How big are these shoes, anyway?


Spinnin' Wheel's Got to Go Round Did you ever notice the sound a leaf makes when it gets caught in a vortex and it spins on the asphalt? It makes a clicking sound. It's cool. I Want To Ride My Bicycle I caught a glimpse of my shadow today as I was cycling to work. I was riveted by how my bum changed shape every time I turned the pedal. Up. Down. Up. Down. No wonder my butt is flatter.


Rain, Rain... When I biked to work yesterday morning, it was moderately sunny. It started raining mid-afternoon and didn't stop until well into this morning. I faced a dilemma at about 6:00 p.m. last evening. I wanted to attend a launch party hosted by one of Softimage's competitors. Should I grab a cab and arrive looking as fresh as I did that morning? Should I take my bike and arrive looking like a drowned rat? I chose the latter. It pelted. Non-stop. My leather coat saved me from getting soaked to the skin, and my scarf protected about a third of my hair. But I was still very, very wet. When I arrived at the registration desk, I dripped all over the receptionist and all over the sign-in sheet I was asked to fill out. Once safely (and covertly) past the registration desk, I hightailed it to the women's washroom and used their supply of brown paper towels to dry my hair. I ate their sandwiches. I drank their cheap red wine. I dried off. I took copious notes about their new product line-up. I got even wetter riding home, but that was fine as I could peel off my wet clothes, turn up the heat, and pile four warm purring cat bodies onto my own. After about fifteen minutes, the kitties tired of catering to me and wanted to go outside. I tried to explain that it was raining "cats and dogs", but the metaphor was lost on them. As I switched on the back patio light and opened the door for my furry little buddies, I was shocked to see that every single leaf from my two massive maple trees had decided to fall off. Last weekend, I was wondering when I was going to have to start raking, as few leaves had actually fallen. It only took one downpour to shake every crimson, gold, and brown leaf off the tree and scatter them everywhere. Sigh.


Sam Taylor-Wood at the MAC Yes, I'm an art whore. I just couldn't miss the opening of the Sam Taylor-Wood exhibit at the MAC last Friday. Taylor-Wood does video and photographic works often dealing with issues of alienation and all the baggage that goes with that. The beauty of her video work begins in the quality of it. Typically projected in large format, the images are sharp and clean, which helps you to move into the pieces themselves. Go to see the lovely Pieta-inspired piece or the fascinating alone-in-a-crowd party piece, featuring the amazing Marianne Faithful.


Frances, Gilda, Mildred, and Me My first assignment for my writing workshop is to write (loosely) about some film that's had some impact on my life. I thought I would have an easy time of it, having purchased several James M. Cain novels for a dollar at the last St-Laurent street festival. The hardcover collection includes "The Postman Always Rings Twice", "Mildred Pierce", and "Double Indemnity", all of which I've seen in their celluloid incarnation. As an aside, no postman appears in "The Postman Always Rings Twice". Initially, I decided to write about "Mildred Pierce", mostly because in the novel, Mildred has a very active sex life--unlike the film--and has a very sado-maso-erotic relationship with her oldest daughter. There was enough fodder for twenty pages easily. I wrote about three pages when I realized that it was sounding very much like an academic paper, comparing and contrasting the book to the film, "buttressed" (a word favoured by my western civ. profs) by examples. Around the time I was thinking about the two Mildreds and my workshop assignment, the CBC presented a panel discussion on the 30th anniversary of the Joy of Sex. One of the older panelists lauded the Joy of Sex as having contributed to the liberation of female sexuality. I've always been suspicious of these types of pronouncements, mostly because books by Cain and characters like Mildred prove that women were having lots of recreational sex well before the 1970s. The idea that women weren't enjoying sex until 1970 is a weird middle class construct. I thought I'd take Mildred, introduce her to middle-class notions of emerging/subjugated female sexuality and see what happens. But, then I realized I'd be writing some kind of university essay and be missing the point. So, my mind wandered back to memories of other films that left an impression on me. The first memory was from about 20 years ago, when I saw the film "Frances". I was between relationships and seeing my friend Charlie on a very platonic level. We were "dating", but never kissed or held hands. We would occasionally put our arms around one another. Every Saturday we would go dancing, and sometimes we would see a movie. I had left Michel about a year earlier, and had yet to meet Bill. So, between relationships and dating someone who I didn't really desire, I saw a film that viscerally portrayed a very tortured and misunderstood actress from the 1940s, Frances Farmer. Beautiful, gifted, alcoholic, and addicted to amphetamines, after one too many sessions in a mental institution, Frances was left literally with very little brain--a doctor finally performing a lobotomy on her to control her "willfulness". Frances, now dead, does have her own tarot card. I remember walking out of the movie--Charlie and I saw it the old Monkland Theatre--and my mind replaying scenes in which a very rebellious actress becomes a very powerless woman. I think Charlie tried to engage me in a conversation about feminism, but all I could think about was my own rebellious acts and whether one day I'd pay for my independence. I don't know exactly when I stopped seeing Charlie and when I started seeing Bill, but it wasn't very long after that. Bill and I stayed together for a few years. It was a pretty stormy and passionate time, especially when he went away for a semester to Trinity College, Dublin. I held onto the relationship voraciously, at one point racking up an $800.00 phone bill because of one-too-many tearful and pleading phone calls to Ireland. My father had to pay the bill to have my phone service reinstated. Despite the investment, we broke up in the Cracovie restaurant on Stanley street, a restaurant I've not been to since and which I'm not even sure exists any more. A very short while later, I met Rob. Eventually, he went away to school. We broke up, too. After Rob, Tony became the new Charlie. An artist who never washed his hair and who made a living by selling drugs to his friends, Tony was an odd choice for me as a between-relationship companion. He lived in a loft in Old Montreal when it wasn't trendy to do so. He never had any money. He was moody and eccentric and the hairiest man I've ever seen. His favourite word was "hirsute". We didn't love each other. We were kind of cruel to each other. We were convenient for one another. Around this time, I saw the film "Gilda", the story of a woman so inexplicably mistreated that it stands as a stellar example of sado-masochism. I discovered the film in the local video store in their very tiny "Classics" section. I remember sitting down in front of the television on the floor of my living room, completely engaged by every scene, which invariably involved someone being very nasty and calculating to someone else. I even tried to write short story that attempted to intertwine the film's plot with an anecdote that a girlfriend told me about a particularly bad date, but I never finished it. I stopped seeing Tony and started seeing Paul. Paul and I were together for a decade until we broke up a couple of years ago. Since then, there's been no Charlies or Tonys to fill the gap. No Frances' or Gildas to iconize feminine fragility. Only Mildred and the academic sway she holds over me.


Ron Sexsmith at Cabaret Saw Ron Sexsmith at Cabaret last night. Normally, I'm not a big fan of that kind of music--kinda folky, kinda rocky, kinda country--but there's something about his superb lyrics and melodies, and intelligent romanticism that draws me in. That he sings like an angel completes the allure. At a certain point during the concert, I realized that I had been kind of lulled into another space. Still conscious of the music playing in front of me, my mind also wandered around thoughts of love and relationships and--I know this sounds corny--I kinda fell in love with the singer on stage, not in a lusting-after-a-rock-star kind of way, but as if he was a tiny benevolent deity, beautiful, perfect, and flawed. He reminded me to be more loving, and there can't be anything wrong with that.


Fun with Science I love the Fall, partially because that means that church bazaars and flea markets will be in full swing. I know some people like to go to the posh neighbourhoods to find steals on designer stuff. Me? I like to go to Verdun, because that's where you can find vintage 70s and 80s stuff for practically no money whatsoever. Here's an inventory of what I found: 1 Hilary Radley nylon trench coat. Crayon green with orange and black polka dot lining. $2.00 1 100 % pure wool cape. Red. $2.00 1 Anne Klein wool skirt. Black. $1.00 1 Khaki shorts, like Debbie Harry wore on the Muppet Show. $1.00 1 almost complete "Grow Your Own Crystals" Kit, complete with growing dishes, charcoal starter, mercurochrome, iodine, food colouring. Fabulous picture of mom and son on front cover. $.25


A Brand New Me! Thanks to Bill, my blog has received a much needed makeover and now matches my still-very-empty web site. The only thing missing is the comments section at the end of each entry. The code for that feature is on my sick PC, which decided to fry my network card while I was on vacation. Thinking that I could just swap in a network card from another PC I just happened to have hanging around, I went ahead and did that. Now the damn PC won't boot--at all. All should be well this weekend, though. On another note, I started a workshop sponsored by the Quebec Writer's Federation entitled Memoir: The Art of Personal Writing. The goal is to have the workshop act as a catalyst for *finally* publishing some stories I've been working on on my web site. Hopefully, the workshop will ensure that they're free of cloying self-indulgence and contain a semblance of (quirky) universality.